Piedmont, in Northern Italy, produces some of the country’s most significant wines. Perhaps most famous in kosher circles for the sweet wines made around the city of Asti, the region produces many dry and more serious wines as well.
About 50 miles away from Asti, the village of Gavi, between Genoa and Milan, is known for its unique, dry whites made from the cortese grape. Named for the region, Gavi di Gavi wine is a standard favorite in the Italian section of (non-kosher) wine shops, and now kosher consumers can try and enjoy it too. Part of The River Wine’s Italian Contessa Annalisa Collection is the Gavi di Gavi 2016. The retail cost is approximately $14 and it merits its “di Gavi” designation by coming from within the comune (town/village) of Gavi proper. It also has the D.O.C.G. designation, which stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, an Italian government guarantee of the wines’ origins and adherence to taste, alcohol levels, percentage of varietals used and vineyard yield.
It is produced by Marchese Luca Spinola, and the titled owner Andrea Spinola traces his noble family’s history in the region for close to 1,000 years (a marchese is a nobleman of hereditary rank, like a marquess in English). But enough about where the wine comes from and its history—let’s get on to what it tastes like!
“It’s somewhat similar in character to pinot grigio, but more intense. Gavi is straw-yellow in color with characteristic greenish highlights—the wine is steely, fresh and lively with honeydew and citrus flavors,” Spinola told The Jewish Link. “Light and easy to drink, it’s delicious on its own, and would be even more delightful as a complement to light fish or poultry dishes,” he added. Because of its individuality and uniqueness, the Contessa Annalisa Gavi di Gavi is a must-try for any white wine lover.
Its most prominent characteristic that distinguishes it from pinot grigio is its minerality combined with its acidity, Spinola said. “Think of Gavi di Gavi as a more complicated white wine like you would think of a great red wine, such as Barolo,” he added. “The cortese grape is also a very old grape that is not grown all over the world like chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon. It is special and unique to this region,” he said.
Taking over his family vineyards 11 years ago (his father used to sell the grapes, and didn’t make wine), Spinola cultivated his vineyards organically and slowly ramped up production. He now produces about 50,000 bottles of three types of Gavi, including one sparkling wine. About 8,000 of the bottles are kosher, created under a three-day kosher run supervised by the London Beit Din. “It is interesting to me to know another community and population. It’s an honor. The rabbi that came to me last year asked me to do all the things according to Jewish law, and if I have questions I call him,” Spinola said.
The wine is fermented in steel vats for six months and then fermented further in the bottle. “It is meant to drink very fresh (drink it young, now, significant cellaring is not recommended) with aperitifs. Thanks to its acidity and freshness, it can be combined with a lot of dishes,” he said.
“Though most white wines are served cold, you should serve this only slightly chilled to appreciate the more complex notes,” said Larissa Nahari, VP of marketing for The River Wine.
Learn more about Gavi di Gavi and The River Wine’s Contessa Annalisa project at http://theriverwine.com/ca.html.
By Elizabeth Kratz